DEFINITION of 'Reimbursable Out-Of-Pocket Costs'

Reimbursable out-of-pocket costs are dollar-for-dollar cash payments made by a company when an employee pays for work-related expenses out-of-pocket.

For example, if a salesperson drives to multiple locations each day to visit clients face-to-face, the amount spent on gas is a reimbursable expense. Sometimes, even wear-and-tear caused by excessive miles on a personal car being used for work will be paid back to an employee. It all depends on company policy. An employee can record the mileage and/or gas costs and submit proof to accounting for payment, or he or she can opt to use the deduction when filing next year’s taxes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Reimbursable Out-Of-Pocket Costs'

Reimbursable out-of-pocket costs can also occur when traveling. If part of a person’s job involves hopping on a plane and attending conferences throughout the year, expenses such as food, hotel, airfare, tips, etc. are reimbursable. Some companies opt not to pay for alcoholic beverages; again, it’s a matter of policy.

Another situation that often requires out-of-pocket work purchases is when someone works from home, every day or a few days a week. Usually, a telecommuter just walks into the local office supply store to buy items like print cartridges, paper, computer accessories, etc. or downloads necessary applications online if a company does not provide them via a connected network and the help of IT. Again, these costs are reimbursable unless an employee chooses to use them as deductions on next year’s taxes. When a company reimburses employees, it can deduct all costs as business expenses without any impact on an individual’s taxes.

Keeping Track of Reimbursable Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Employees should keep accurate daily records of expenses and provide receipts on forms provided either by their companies or online and turned into the accounting department on a predetermined schedule. All mileage should be logged, including odometer readings, dates and locations. Commuting miles, however, are not reimbursable.

In many cases, it’s beneficial and easier for both parties if an employer pays for expenses ahead of time. It can save accounting time and prevent an employee from having to spend personal money on business when it might be a hardship.

Another way companies handle expenses is by providing a corporate credit card in their name and the balance is paid directly to the merchants.

A reimbursable out-of-pocket cost for a sales representative could be a restaurant bill from courting a potential client or the cost of gas to drive to a sales course in a neighboring city. Most companies have guidelines to help employees determine what expenses are considered reimbursable out-of-pocket costs and which are not. Usually, employees will have to retain receipts and give detailed explanations for their purchases.

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